In high school I was as cool as it gets. Sun glasses, stylish haircut, hip attitude, cigarettes, a full flask in the backseat of my GTI and a continually erect penis. I owed the space that I inhabited. I was the one who knew everything about the most alternative music to listen to. The cool kids consulted with me. I ran with the top shelf crew. I was so cool that I was almost famous. Teachers were more interested In me than I was in them. Girls and a few guys heads always followed me as I walked passed. I was healthy, angry, nice and untamable. I smiled at the less cool and isolated no one. My coolness gave me a kind of diplomatic immunity that I used to help liberate the less fortunate. I had my whole life in front of me. Nothing came between me and the pursuit of my dreams (except my fathers pessimism).
Twenty five years later and I would like to think that I’m still cool for a 43 year old guy. I’m no where near as cool a I once was though. A belly, a mortgage, a professional career, a meditation practice and the aging process all make coolness a state of being that is not so easy to attain. I don’t know if it is responsibility that gets in the way of coolness or a gradual loss of interest in one’s reflection in the mirror. When a young person has dreams of rock and roll accomplishments, coolness is often a preliminary stage. Coolness is letting others know about the inner creative genius they are yet to see. It’s an outer display of an inner belief in one’s self. Once the dreams have lost their grip- so does coolness.
Most people will never be as cool, as famous, as obsessed over and as filled with unattainable aspirations as they are in high school. For this reason- a lot of people see high school as the greatest time in their lives. Especially if they were one of the cool kids. And
after all, such a small percentage of those cool kids gets to grow up and be Keith Richards, Tom Waits or Kanye West. Most cool adults get told that they are refusing to grow up. Cool adults often hang on to coolness in exchange for chronic feelings of failure. And the rest decide to grow up, embrace responsibility and the daily grind and save whatever is left of their coolness for the weekends.
The adult who is able to preserve their coolness and still earn a decent income is the true hero in a world that demands that we leave our coolness at almost every front door before we enter (that’s why I always take the back door if possible).